big valley, small world
The barkleys

by Dennis e. Power

The Barkleys were a powerful family in the annals of early California, yet they had strong ties with several parts of the extended Wold Newton family. The family was represented in the television series, Big Valley, telling the story of Widow Victoria Barkley her three children and her husband's natural child.

    Victoria Barkley was originally a Scott from Detroit, Ohio. Her father was a clerk working for a Senator from Ohio. She met Tom Barkley as a young woman and they came to an understanding. She decided not to accompany her father and sister to Washington D.C. while time sought his fortune in the West. An older brother went to California during the Gold Rush and stayed there. His grandson was the great detective Shell Scott. Her sister met and married Daniel Reid, who as you well know was the older brother of the Lone Ranger and the father of the Green Hornet.

    Victoria married Tom Barkley and together they made a fortune in Stockton, California in agriculture, mines and cattle. They had three children, Jarrod, Nick and Audra.

Tom Barkley extended his holdings to nearby towns, owning a mine in Strawberry, California. While investigating trouble among the miners at his mine in Strawberry, Tom Barkley was attacked and left for dead by a mob. He was nursed back to health by Leah Simmons and as he recovered a romantic interlude took place. Tom was happily married and broke off the affair when he regained his total senses. Leah hid from Barkley the fact that she was pregnant with his child, whom she named Heath. Heath later discovered his paternity and went to see his father’s family. After some initial friction, they accepted him as one of their own.

    Heath Barkley through his descent from Leah Simmons is a member in good standing in the Wold Newton family.

    Leah Simmons was descended from Pearl Prynne and John Burlingame. Their son was Henry Burlingame b. 1664 whose adventures were related in John Barth’s The Sot Weed Factor their daughter was Hester Burlingame born 1666. Hester married in 1687 to Francis Blake, a formerly dissolute member of the Blakeney family. Having been disowned by his father for continued gambling and drinking, he found himself in serious debt. He opted for transportation to the New World and served out a bondage of five years. Francis Blake moved to the Boston area and became a fairly wealthy lumberman. They had four children, Alan 1688, Dorothy 1690, Samuel 1693 and Priscilla 1700

Alan Blake went to England for education and remained there. His son assisted his cousin Percival Blakeney in his work. A descendent of Alan Blake was Sexton Blake.

Dorothy married Orion Gordon, a printer and intelligence operative for the crown. He was also an Eridanean agent. Among their descendants are the two Artemus Gordons

Priscilla married Jonathan Wilkes but they did not have children until late in life, Alexander 1738 and Serena 1740. Alexander would travel to Georgia and found the Wilkes plantation. His descendent Ashley was the true love of Scarlett O’Hara.

Among his other less wealthy descendants were the Fletchers. One of them, Thomas Fletcher would become a midshipman on Commodore Perry’s fleet to Japan. When his crew was slain, twelve year old Fletcher was adopted by a Japanese Samurai. He was trained in the arts of the samurai, when his Georgian family was slain by roving marauders, he returned to the United States and became known as the Six Gun Samurai, whose adventures were recorded by Patrick Lee.

Serena married Charles Loring, a descendent of Sir Nigel Loring. One of their son George’s descendents became the magician sleuth known as Norgil. Their daughter Ruth was the second wife of the famed silversmith John Tremaine. Whose daughter, Priscilla Tremaine b. 1800 married firstly Jeremiah Hawkins, son of James Hawkins of Treasure Island fame but he was lost at sea, leaving no issue. She married secondly, Thomas Crabb of Virginia in 1825

The Tremaine's youngest daughter Rachel b. 1810 ran off with a young man with dreams of making a fortune in New York City. Unfortunately, he ran afoul of one of the flourishing street gangs and was killed, leaving a pregnant Rachel behind. Rachel gave birth to Leah Tremaine 1830 and worked as seamstress for a time. She became ill and was advised to leave New York. She traveled to the Iowa home of her former "husband's" brother. She died in Iowa. Her daughter Leah stayed with the Simmons and traveled to California with them in 1849. She met Tom Barkley in 1855 and gave birth to Heath Barkley later that year which would have made him in his early twenties when he showed up at the Barkley ranch, I estimate the series to take place in about 1877-1880

Among Heath Barkley’s descendants are Colt Seavers, Stuntman and Bounty Hunter (Fall Guy), Herman Jablonski (Raven) and Colonel Steven Austin -Test Pilot, Astronaut (Six Million Dollar Man)

  There was also another member of the Wold Newton family residing at the Barkley Mansion. He was shown quite often but is probable that Heath and he never knew that they were related. I refer to Silas Douglas, although his last name is not revealed in the Television series. He is Silas the House Manager or Butler, if you would.

    Silas escaped from slavery in 1850 and traveled west to California where he became a prospector. He became friends with Tom Barkley and eventually saved Barkley’s life from some violent claim jumpers. Silas became Tom Barkley’s constant companion and eventually became the House Manager of the Barkley estate.

    Silas was the brother of James Douglas, slave of Widow Douglas of St. Petersburg, Missouri. Famed as the character "Nigger Jim" of Huckleberry Finn.  James Douglas' grandson  was James Douglas Henry (James West II) Silas and his brother James were the grandsons of Long John Silver.

At the end of Treasure Island, Long John Silver escapes from hanging with a bag of gold. Stevenson says "that he returned to his old Negress, and perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain Flint" Yet Mr. Farmer states that Silver had gone to New York married the widow of a young Hudson River patroon and gained a fortune by smuggling during the revolution.

We can only guess that the Crown seized Mr. Silver’s assets when he was sentenced to hang, which included the Anchor Inn in Bristol and possibly his Wife and their children. If they were still slaves, selling them off in West Indies. Or his wife may have fled to an appointed place in the West Indies where she and the children were seized and sold as slaves.

Mrs. Silver and her children were sold off in America. Silver followed their trail as best as he could but found no trace of them. Although I am still researching what happened to most of Long John Silver’s descendants of African descent

    When Audra Barkley married, she brought yet another member of the Wold Newton family into the family fold, Adam Cartwright. Adam studied Architecture at Stockton University and eventually opened up a successful business with his brother in law Heath, as they took advantage of the population boom to build several communities.



© 2000 Dennis Power